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This week I discovered a truly one-of-a-kind piece of Tron-related memorabilia. Behold, a coloring book that was produced by the computer engineers who helped make the original Tron in 1982. It was created as a gift for my mom, and was supposed to be forwarded my way after I was born. However, I’ve never seen it until now so I’m laying down a pretty serious guilt trip. As you’ll see from the pictures below it’s something of a bad engineer’s joke, but pretty cool all the same.

First, here’s a little back story. Back in ’82 my mom, while pregnant with yours truly, worked as a technical editor at the computer graphics firm Evans & Sutherland in Salt Lake City. Evans & Sutherland designed and manufactured computer equipment and was on the cutting edge of computer graphics technology. Simulators like their model SP1, which is noted on the coloring book cover above, was one such product that kept them at the head of the pack. The following excerpt is from the company’s history, which is available on Funding Universe:

With the aid of the three former GE engineers, Evans & Sutherland entered what would become one of its key markets. In 1973 the company began a joint project with RSL (Rediffusion Simulation Limited) of Great Britain, in which E&S would make NOVOVIEW visual simulators for commercial airlines, and RSL would market those items. The Dutch airline KLM bought the first NOVOVIEW system.

NOVOVIEW products brought E&S its first profits in 1974 and continued success as the decade progressed. The flight simulator business boomed following the Arab oil embargo of 1974, which made fuel and thus live pilot training much more expensive. By 1977, the SP1, NOVOVIEW’s successor, was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and brought in more sales to E&S than all its other simulators combined.

Here’s where it gets interesting. In 1982, riding on the success of their flight simulators, Evans & Sutherland decided to branch out.

E&S also diversified in the 1980s by beginning to use its technology for entertainment and education. For example, the 1982 movie Tron, a science-fiction tale of human entities living inside a computer at the microchip level, employed some E&S products to create its special effects.

Anyway, the engineers at Evans & Sutherland took time out of their Tron-building schedules to make a little coloring book for my unborn self. So whoever you fellas are, thank you.

You’ll see from the pictures that it would be a pretty awful coloring book for any kid. And the whole “Jack And Jill” thing is pretty obnoxious. And there aren’t any cool pictures of Tron characters, only the equipment that was used to make Tron. But still, thanks.

And after seeing the equipment they were using I still find it hard to believe that the computer industry had moved past Pong by 1982. The engineers who made this book were still using to tape drive computers to make Hollywood CGI, for crying out loud. Maybe that explains why Jeff bridges had to resort to wearing a ratty old hockey helmet.

Without further ado, here’s the SP1 Coloring Book:

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